About the author: Joan Lingard who is the author of “Across the Barricades”, was born in Edinburgh in 1932, but grew up in Belfast. She began writing when she was eleven, and is the author of more than twenty childrens novel’s and twelve for adults. The Kevin and Sadie books by Joan Lingard: The Twelfth Day of July, Across the Barricades, Into Exile, A Proper Place and Hostages to Fortune.
The setting: “Across the Barricades” is the second novel in Joan Lingard’s series about the young Belfast couple, Kevin and Sadie. The author has based the story on the risings between the Catholics and the Protestants in Belfast in Northern Ireland. I would guess the story is set around the 1970’s. The city has been parted in two seperate areas: one for Catholics and the other for Protestants. In both areas there have been incidents of violence and fighting. The theme is of course about the strong love between a boy and a girl, threatened by the circumstances. We follow them through good and bad.
The Plot: In the middle of the times of conflicts in Belfast, Sadie Jackson, a 16 years old Protestant girl, meets an old friend of her after nearly three years. Kevin McCoy. The 18 years old boy, who lives on the other side of the city, is a Catholic. But this does not seem to bother the two good friends at all. While Kevin and Sadie are getting more and more closer to each other, suspicion and rumours begin to grow. Tommy, Sadie’s brother knows what she is up to and tries the best he can to unvoid it, and so does Brede, Kevin’s sister. But not successfully. Obviusly, no one around them seem to be very fond of this, seeing them together. Especially not their families and their friends.
One day Kevin is even beaten up by Brian Rafferty, whom he thought was his friend, and his gang. A little later, Mrs McConkey’s shop in Sadie’s treet is burned down, and the woman dies. Their relationship causes them many problems ; both lose their jobs and they can no longer see each other outside Belfast, which they usually do. But then they meet Mr Blake, a former teacher of Sadie’s. He is willing to help the two lovers. They agree to meet only at his place from now on. In connection with this, Sadie also gets two small jobs.
Mr Blake, who lives in a peaceful area, keep on housing them, and soon he becomes a good friend to them both. But after a while, Mr Blake recieves letters with threats, and one day when he is taking Kevin and Sadie out for a ride in his car, a wheel comes off. The car has been sabotaged. But the couple countinue to meet each other.
Then one day, Kevin and Sadie are told that Mr Blake is dead. He was killed when someone throwed a petrol bomb into his house. The couple are very upset after this, especially Sadie, who is blaming herself for the happening. A little later, Kevin decides to move away from Belfast to England. Away from the sounds of gunfire and bombs. The day Kevin leaves, he meets Sadie, who is running towards him on the docks. But not to say good-bye. She is going with him to England. There they can make their fortune together.
My Opinion: I have a good impression of this novel, after reading it. Joan Lingard describes the situation between the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland in a very realistic way. Though the love-story between the two main characters is pretty much a clichè, the author has managed to keep up the tension through the whole book. This is good entertainment and not too heavy reading, for teenagers.